The regeneration of a rundown Widnes industrial estate has taken another step forward with the announcement of a development partner to help Halton Council deliver on its plans.

Cityheart Ltd, a developer with experience mainly in building student accommodation, is expected to be approved as the council’s partner on the redevelopment of the Golden Triangle in Halebank on Thursday (February 25).

The council has long aimed to turn the industrial estate into a housing development and is finally in a position to begin work on the project after granting planning permission to the first phase of the scheme.

Cityheart will help Halton Council secure funding for its plans to build 86 homes on the former Tarmac and Stobart sites on Foundry Lane after the promise of a Homes England grant fell through last year due to the pandemic.

The company will also assist in remediating contaminated land and drawing up plans for the redevelopment of the wider industrial estate – a more complex proposition involving 14 plots and multiple landowners.

Ward councillor Eddie Dourley said he was “delighted” by the news, adding: “This will represent real progress in our aim to regenerate this corner of Halebank and is particularly good news for the long suffering residents living near these sites, this is hopefully the first stage in the wider development of the area which we want to include a much needed relief road and the re-opening of Ditton Station.

“There are a number of issues on our list of priorities. However, if you speak to residents in Halebank by-and-large their two main priorities are the need for a relief road and the regeneration of the Foundry Lane/Golden Triangle area, this will only be the start of the process.”

But the regeneration of the Golden Triangle is likely to take some time as the council seeks to take ownership of the land, remove any contamination and carry out work to reduce the risk of flooding.

A report prepared ahead of Thursday’s council executive board meeting said: “Communication and negotiation with landowners and their tenants is in its infancy – although an initial newsletter was sent to all known stakeholders in November 2020.  “Some landowners are known to be keen to sell; whilst some are known to be reluctant; some are interested in selling at highly inflated prices; and the views of some are simply not known at this stage.”

The report added that the council was keen to avoid using a compulsory purchase order, but could issue one as a last resort.